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Agriculture Minister Urges Stakeholder To Prioritise Zoonotic Disease
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Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said it was absolutely relevant and important as a country to rank and prioritise many endemic and emerging zoonotic diseases.

He said the limited human and financial resources available made the case for prioritisation necessary to effectively prevent, detect and response to these zoonotic diseases.

Dr Akoto said this in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of a five-day workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in collaboration with the United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the United States Agency for International Development.

The workshop was to use a multi-sectorial, One Health approach to prioritise endemic and emerging zoonotic diseases that was of great concern in Ghana, which needed to be jointly addressed by the Ministries responsible for human, animal and environment.

Ghana through self-assessment has identified Rabies, Anthrax, Brucellosis, TB, Avian influenza and cysticercosis as priority Zoonotic Diseases out of the 31 Zoonotic Disease.

However, the country plans to adopt the use of CDC tool to prioritise the Zoonotic Disease and its implementation.

He said it was very relevant that the CDC had developed a tool that could be used to rank and prioritise emerging and endemic zoonotic diseases of great national concern, using equal input from all the ministries related to health.

He called on participants to give all the needed attention to the ranking and prioritisation process so that at the end, the zoonoses of greatest concern would be ranked prioritised to enable the Ministries work together to prevent and control them.

Dr Akoto expressed the hope that after the workshop the participants would support the operationalisation of national One Health coordination mechanisms and evaluate the integration of One Health policies in national and regional levels to mitigate the risk of emergence and spread of zoonoses.

He said the USAID-funded FAO emerging pandemic threats and global health security agenda programme in 21 countries including Ghana was to enhance capacity of animal health services to prevent, detect and respond rapidly to major health threats from the animal secto.

“This will minimise the loss of animal and human lives and the devastating socio-economic consequences,” he added.

Dr Kristina Angelo, a Medical Epidemiologist at the CDC, said the One Health Zoonotic Disease Prioritisation tool was semi-quantitative and relied on facilitators, in collaboration with stakeholders, generating a list of zoonoses to be ranked in advance of workshop discussions.

She said other African countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, DR Congo, Senegal, Mali, Cameroon and Cote d’ Ivoire had used the CDC tool to rank and prioritise their zoonoses.

Dr Angelo said the workshop would help participants to strengthen multi-sectorial collaborations, adding that prioritised zoonoses could focus limited financial and personnel resources to build laboratory capacity, conduct efficient and effective surveillance in humans and animals.

She said it would also develop joint outbreak response plans and create prevention and control strategies for both human and animal health.

Dr William Amafu, the Chairman of the Veterinary Council, said Ghana needed to institutionalise a zoonotic unit to assess the country's risk and preparedness to emerging infectious diseases.
Source: GNA

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